State Assembly GOP presents budget, Dems propose amendments

Published: Jun. 29, 2021 at 5:50 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2021 at 6:33 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Wisconsin Legislature is taking its final votes on the state’s two-year budget. The debate is continuing in the state Assembly on an $87.5 billion dollar plan.

Republican lawmakers hope to get the state budget passed this week and into Gov. Tony Evers’ hands on July 1.

The budget was first proposed by Evers and was revised by the Joint Finance Committee (JFC).

That Republican-controlled committee stripped several measures out of the budget; however, Democrats are trying to incorporate some of those items back with budget amendments.

Democrats tried to restore the expansion of the state-run Medicaid program, Badger Care. They insisted more funding and an expansion of the program, where Republicans disagreed.

“We were sitting on a $5.5 billion surplus, that coupled with the massive amounts of federal funding already coming to the state, that apparently isn’t enough, we have to expand welfare,” State Rep. Mark Born, (R) Beaver Dam said.

The Medicaid expansion amendment ultimately failed, as well as additional education funding and keeping the UW tuition freeze.

“If we expanded Medicare in our state, in addition to increasing access to healthcare to tens of thousands of Wisconsinites who do not have affordable access,” State Rep. Lisa Subeck, (D) Madison, Minority Caucus Vice Chair said.

Republican lawmakers are highlighting more than $3 billion in tax cuts over two years. That includes reduced income taxes and business property taxes.

Democrats also argue that Republicans are not putting enough money from the budget into education.

The JFC cut nearly 400 items previously from Gov. Evers’s budget.

It also resulted in less funding for schools, but Republicans say they have found a way to bring that money back into the classroom.

“We started off our education by first approving the $1.5 billion in funding, in addition, we made investments to key areas, like increasing the reimbursement rate to special education to 30%,” State Rep. Jessie Rodriguez, (R-Oak Creek) said.

Democrats also tried amending the budget to add more educational funding back in.

“They will tell you that they are making historic investments in schools, but the majority of their investment is a property tax cut, not an investment in our kids,” State Rep. Greta Neubauer, (D- Racine) said. “When we look at the actual investments made in education, this budget is among the worst of the last decade.”

The education amendment attempt failed. Once the Assembly passes its version of the budget, it heads to the Senate, and the process starts over.

Governor Evers could also use a line-item veto. That means the governor can veto details like money totals or certain wording without rejecting the entire budget. The Legislature could override those vetoes by a two-thirds vote in both the Senate and Assembly.

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